It’s nuts to think that in a short three months, I’ll be returning to one of the best places in existence. Calvin College where the Central District Youth Conference is hosted. People like to call it CDYC for short, but we like to call it FUN. What’s even more crazy is that registration is due in fifteen days, which means that it’s crunch time. It’s time to push people out of their comfort zones as we leave our own and its time to get every students phone numbers and send out spam as to why they need to come and what there is to expect. Granted, I’ve only been going for four years now, but each time I lovingly pressure somebody into going, I always inform them that there’s no way they’re going to come back upset.
I’ve said that the last few years and that statement holds true. So here’s the deal and the sole reason why I am writing about this issue. Students, Parents, friends of a Jr. High or Sr. High student: I want to share with you how you can completely change and save your loved one’s (student that is) life in less than a week. You might have heard murmurs about CDYC or gotten a letter in the mail, but I want to tell you the impact it can have on a person. As a living testimony, I want to give you the details on what CDYC is in my own eyes.
Okay, so I know I’m an adult leader and I know that the main purpose of CDYC is to get kids closer to God and to each other, but it’s so much more than that. If you aren’t familiar with what CDYC is, then here’s the rundown. Basically, CDYC is church camp. Listed below are the dates and costs for each group.
- When: June 20-23
- Price: $225
- When: June 24-28
- Price: $250
Now if this is all new and last minute to you, I know what you’re thinking. “Are you crazy, Clayton? That’s a lot of money for just some silly camp.” Two things. Number 1, we promo the crap out of fundraisers. We usually hold three a year for CDYC and it’s more than enough to raise the funds. One of the fundraisers is selling laundry detergent and when I participated in that one for a Missions trip to Guatemala, I raised half of the money for that just from detergent sales. That trip cost four digits as well. Point B, I can promise you that the time your child is going to have while they are at this camp can’t have a dollar price put on it. Being a part of this experience is priceless and the impact that it will have on their lives is priceless. You have my word on that. Additionally, if money is an issue and it is preventing a student from coming, we do scholarship students. We request that you try to pay at least some amount to make sure you are committed. $25 is better than nothing, but if you can pay more than that, great! The last thing we want as leaders is for someone to miss out on all of this due to stupid money. Yes, I legit think money is stupid, but that’s another blog…
I know some parents aren’t into the whole church thing and they may not be a Christian, but that’s fine! If you aren’t, some of this may not make a lot of sense to you but if you have a kid who wants to go, then think of it as a type of sporting or one of their favorite hobbies. Like sports, band, or other activities, your kid wants to have a fun time and get closer to the people around them. They also want to get better at the activity, which in this case is their faith. Again, this may seem like a weird concept, but seriously…this is the perfect place for them. Not to say, they will be under the guidance of a pretty awesome group of adults. (By the way, we all have background checks and go through training just to clarify that your kids are in safe hands. If you don’t believe me, feel free to call the church, me, or any of the other adult sponsors. We’d love to talk to you more in person and clear things up. We aren’t random strangers on the street. We legit!)
So I’ve talked about the logistics, but what exactly is it that we do? Well to start off, we meet up at RSM and pack up our bags. All of the information needed for what to bring and what not to bring will be on a separate form and discussed in person at a later date. We will be holding a meeting for parents to give them a little more information on he whole trip. This should clear some stuff up and let the parents see who will be watching their kids for a few days. (See, told ya we’re legit) The meeting will be held on June 17th at 8:30 P.M. This is a few days before we take off for CDYC. When we meet up in the morning, we pack up and head out to Calvin College via bus. We normally stop for dinner on the way there; however, our first meal may be at the school depending on which grade your student is in. Either way, you’re kid will be fed pretty stinkin’ well while there. The food is amazing.
The schedule consists of main worship sessions where we go to their auditorium/theater. We listen to some awesome bands and come together in worship, and then we hear a speaker give an important lesson dealing with some of the common struggles and problems teens go through. There’s also some games during the sessions here and there. The best parts about the sessions are how openly loving people are during the entire experience and during worship. Between the sessions, we meet up in small groups where we talk about the sermons that were given. Each student who comes to CDYC is also included in a sport, whether it’s basketball, volleyball, or something else. We play in teams and there’s a tournament, but since we’re from RSM, we focus on having a good time. I mean last year we made our own cheering section and played volleyball in choir robes as our friends sang cheers in choir robes. It was ridiculous but quite memorable. There’s also a color run, rock climbing, outdoor activities, and a lot of free time to get closer to one another and make some great, long-lasting friendships. I could go on and on about what we do there because it’s so event filled and great. Trust me, students won’t be bored while they are there. Again, if you have any more questions about what CDYC is or what your kid’s going to be doing, pick up a phone and call one of us! We’d be more than happy to talk.
Alright, so I’ve addressed the common information concerning parents, now let’s get into the bulk of this post (sorry I write so much), why you HAVE to come. Students, if you haven’t been before, trust me with all your heart when I say there is no way possible you will regret coming. If you do, let me know personally and I would be convinced to let you punch me in the face for giving you false information. I’m almost serious about that one. But I’m also serious about how crucial it is for you to come. Each year I go, I come back refreshed and my life is changed. In fact, the first year I went I was really hesitant to come. This was before I started getting more involved with RSM and I was really uncomfortable with talking to people. I know that seems odd as a leader and odd if you know me now, but there was an extended time in my life where I was a hermit and was too scared to talk to anybody. Coming to CDYC helped break me out of that shell. When I came for the first time, I felt uncomfortable at first, but it got better as the days went on. At first, I would stand in worship, not sing, and not move at all. I thought all of the stuff was weird and I wasn’t familiar with the junior high students, so I felt really out of place. But then I started seeing God, really seeing Him for the first time. Something suddenly came over me in one of the worship sessions and I suddenly got it. I looked around me and I saw a giant group of Jr. High students, a group of students who could be home playing video games or doing nothing on their summer break; a group of kids who could be out doing drugs and making poor decisions; a group of kids who are constantly under the influence and peer pressure of their friends; a group of students who willingly chose to embrace Jesus instead of all of those other bad things pouring their hearts out into the worship songs. And then the scales fell off of my eyes. I distinctly remember standing there in worship, seeing peoples’ hands raised in the air singing “How He Loves” at the top of their lungs. As I looked up to the stage and through the fog machines and green lights, I suddenly joined in on the song and felt my heart explode as the lady singing changed the lyrics from “How He Loves Us” to “How He Loves Me” This was my life changing moment. This was the moment where I kicked it up a notch in my faith and made the commitment to follow Jesus instead of being his fan.
You see, each year I go, I come back refreshed. Each year I go, I see students get saved and have their lives changed completely. The most broken, lost students go and come back home as superheroes. The people who I push so hard to get there who are on the safe side of the fence debating if they should come or not show up and literally weep because of the joy they experience. There are no words that can adequately describe how life-changing CDYC can be, it just depends on if you are willing to jump out of your comfort zone and how willing you are to really put the effort in to have your life changed. You get out what you put into it.
Like I said, this is an event targeted towards students, but I can vouch for any adult who goes that they look just as forward going to this for themselves as they do seeing students go. We want everyone to go! I can’t stress enough how amazing it is. Not to mention, there’s tons of stories and inside jokes that will have you talking until the following year when you return.
So this is my final plea to any student or parent reading this. Please consider coming. Let me put it into a different perspective for you. Since grades 6-12 attend, let’s say the average student is in the middle, so freshman. That means they are 14 years old. The average life expectancy for a human in the U.S.A. is 78.8 (We’re low on the scale thanks to processed foods!) That means if they live to the average age, they still have approximately 65 years left to live. This is equal to 23725 days. CDYC is at most 5 days long. If you compare this to the total days remaining, this comes out to 0.02% of your remaining life span. This leaves you with 23720 days left to do what you want if you don’t like it. What is there to lose??!!? At the very most, you lose some money and five days of your life. Big whoop, that’s a few less Big Macs and a few less seasons of time wasted spent watching Pretty Little Liars or something else that corrupts our minds. (Yeah, I’m pretty pro at wasting time too. It’s all good, but you get my point) Sure you might lose 5 days, but it only takes one second and the right experience to change your life forever. Those remaining 23720 days could turn into the best 23720 days you’ve ever lived if something big happens!
I could rant forever about how great this trip is and rewarding it is. I’m sure you’re tired reading all of this so far though, so I’ll wrap it up. If you are on the edge about coming and you aren’t sure, I strongly advise you to consider it. If you don’t know anybody who is coming, I’d be willing to stand by your side until you comfortably make friends to hang around, which won’t take long. If you can’t make it or don’t want to, I understand and that’s fine, but I really do hope you can! You’ll thank me later.
I’m obviously biased about CDYC, but that’s because it changed my life and continues to do so each and every year. The best part is it lets you get away from all the stresses and crap that comes with life and be at peace for a few days around the people you love and adore. We like to call CDYC “FUN” but that doesn’t even put a dent into what CDYC really stands for.
Take a random leap of faith. If you’re a student, show up and bring a friend to make it more comfortable and enjoy the peace away from home. If you’re an adult, get your kids out of the house a few days and enjoy the peace and quiet. It’s a win/win. Who knows, you could even save a life just by showing up.